Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Mental health treatment in America

A few days ago, the Aurora theater shooter trial came to an end with the accused being found guilty on all counts.  No doubt this creature was crazy...after all, no one in their right mind would think about doing what he did, but clearly the jury decided that he was not insane, which is a legal term and not a psychiatric term.  Basically, even though he was nuts, he was well aware that what he was doing was wrong, and that's the reason why he will either get life without parole or death.
The biggest problem I have with this whole scenario is that even though this creature was seeking treatment, he obviously never got all of the help that he really needed.  And for that, the fault lies with insurance companies and the way that Americans view mental illness.
That might sound crazy, but stay with me for a minute.  Many insurance companies do not cover mental health issues the same way they do physical health issues.  For many, they pay a smaller percentage, leaving he patient to pay high bills, and mental health treatment can be expensive.  In addition, many insurance companies severely limit the number of caretakers in their network, also making it harder for people to seek treatment.  Major hospitals might be in the network of an insurance company for physical health issues, but not mental health issues.  This doesn't make sense to me.  Mental illness is just as real as physical illness.  In the majority of cases, there is a biological reason for the mental illness, but somehow it's different in the eyes of the insurance companies.
This difference probably comes from the way that Americans view mental illness.  A large number of Americans think that the mentally ill are weak.  Basically saying that a person who suffers from depression is weak and just needs to grow a backbone, or some other stupid comment that you might expect to hear from people.  This is like saying that a person who gets cancer is somehow physically weak.  We don't shun and shame people with cancer, why should we do it with people suffering from mental illness?
I've known a lot of wonderful and a lot of strong people that have suffered from depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses, and it wasn't their fault, and yet America somehow blames them.  This is wrong in so many ways, and this, in addition to the insurance BS, is a big reason why people who are suffering never seek treatment, and this can lead to the creation of monsters like the Aurora Theater shooter.
Wake up, America! Mental illness is no different than physical illness, and it's about time that we start treating them the same.

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